Sunday, July 4, 2010

'Boston harbor a tea-pot to-night!'

From The Yankee Tea-Party, Or, Boston in 1773, a stylized account of the Big Brew, written by Henry C. Watson and published in 1852:

It was the fourth of July in Boston. Throughout the city which cradled the Revolution, the anniversary of the birth of the free and happy United States of America was celebrated with rejoicings unknown to the shackled people of monarchical countries. Meetings were held in various parts of the city, patriotic and democratic speeches made, bells rung, cannons fired, pistols, crackers, and fireworks of all descriptions discharged, toasts drank, and festivities of all kinds indulged. ... But a more unusual and far more interesting meeting occurred in Boston, about a quarter of a mile from the wharf known ever since the commencement of the Revolution as Griffin's Wharf.

In the upper room of an old and somewhat dilapidated tavern were assembled a party of old and young men—the representatives of two generations. Three of the old men were the remaining members of the famous Lebanon Club; the first liberty club formed in the colonies, and the one which designed and executed the project of destroying the tea at Boston. They had come from various parts of the country, upon agreement, to meet once more in the house where the disguised members of the club had met on the evening of the sixteenth of December, 1773.

... "Well, the seventeen men of our club determined, whether we were aided or not, to destroy the tea which the East India Company had sent to Boston. The plan was soon formed, as it always is when men are determined to do a thing. We wanted no captain—each man could command for himself. We resolved to disguise ourselves in Mohawk dresses, and carry such arms as would enable us to sell our lives pretty dearly; we also pledged ourselves never to reveal the names of any of the party while there was danger in it. We expected to have a fight anyhow, and the first man who faltered was to be thrown overboard with the tea. We came to Boston and found the people ripe for the deed. A great meeting was to be held at the old South Meeting-house, and we concluded to wait and see what would be done there. We lodged at this tavern, and held our councils up in this room. Well, there was a tremendous meeting at the Old South, and most of us were there to help to keep up the excitement, and to push our plan if a chance appeared. Young Quincy made a speech that stirred the people, and made them ready for anything which would show their spirit. The people voted with one voice that the tea should not be landed. We saw how things were going, came back to the tavern, put on our Mohawk dresses, and returned to the meeting. Pitts succeeded in getting into the church just about dusk and raising the war-whoop. We answered outside. Then Pitts cried out, 'Boston harbor a tea-pot to-night!'"

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